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Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
June 2007


The Atlanta HIDTA region is a principal drug distribution center for most of the southeastern United States; law enforcement agencies throughout the Southeast routinely identify Atlanta as the primary source for methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana sold in their jurisdictions. The region is also emerging as a key drug distribution center for drug markets in eastern states, including New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and for some markets in midwestern states, including Illinois and Missouri. Additionally, Mexican DTOs operating in Atlanta are extending their trafficking networks by using Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh as secondary distribution centers.

Mexican DTOs are the primary wholesale distributors of cocaine, marijuana, and ice methamphetamine in the Atlanta HIDTA region. These DTOs frequently use stash houses to store illicit drugs while awaiting further distribution. Further, Mexican DTOs use a variety of electronic communication devices, coded text messages on cell phones, and instant messages on computers to facilitate their drug distribution operations.

DTOs and criminal groups of various nationalities and ethnicities sell illicit drugs at the retail level in the area (see Table 5), and their methods of operation change little from year to year. Retail-level drug distribution occurs throughout most of the Atlanta HIDTA region, with specific drug markets located in certain areas of the city. For example, DTOs and criminal groups typically distribute ice methamphetamine and crack cocaine in southeastern Atlanta; GHB, methamphetamine, MDMA, and diverted pharmaceutical drugs in Midtown Atlanta; powder cocaine and MDMA in Buckhead; and heroin in Vine City and an area in northwestern Atlanta known as the Bluff. Retail-level drug distribution occurs at open-air markets, housing projects, private homes and businesses, and prearranged meeting sites such as parking lots.

Table 5. Retail-Level Drug Distributors in the Atlanta HIDTA Region

Distributors Drug(s) Distributed
African American Powder and crack cocaine, heroin, MDMA, marijuana, and ice methamphetamine
Asian High-potency marijuana and MDMA
Caucasian Powder cocaine, GHB, MDMA, marijuana, locally produced methamphetamine, ice methamphetamine, and diverted pharmaceuticals
Colombian Powder cocaine and marijuana
Cuban High-potency marijuana
Dominican Powder cocaine
Hispanic Powder cocaine and ice methamphetamine

 Source: Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

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